Incredible Dracula Parrot Populations Are Decreasing Due To Poaching

by : Niamh Shackleton on : 25 Feb 2020 15:36
Incredible Dracula Parrot Populations Are Decreasing Due To PoachingIncredible Dracula Parrot Populations Are Decreasing Due To PoachingDoug Janson/Peter Tan/Wikimedia

The population of the distinctive Dracula Parrot – named for its unique appearance – is steadily decreasing due to poaching.


To give it its real name, Pesquet’s Parrot actually appears more like a type of vulture than it does a parrot, thanks to its 18-inch (45cm) stature and featherless face.

The birds are said to weigh around 600-800g, making them one of the heaviest of their species. Dracula Parrots gets their name from the bright red feathers and black chest and head, which resemble the famous vampire’s signature cape.

Dracula Parrot Dracula Parrot Greg Hume/Wikimedia

Adding to the bird’s quirkiness, it’s one of only three parrots to have featherless faces. Despite its name, the large birds mainly feed on figs, and are predominantly found in Papua New Guinea, not Transylvania. Researchers believe, just as vultures lost the feathers on their face beak to adapt to feeding on bloody carcasses, the Dracula Parrot lost its facial feathers in response to its diet of sticky fruits, Australian Geographic report.


These days, however, the beautiful creature has been listed as ‘vulnerable’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List, with its population in steady decline because of poaching.

It’s believed the main reason poachers target the Dracula Parrot is to use their feathers for ‘ceremonial dress’, as well as the birds being used for meat and caged bird trade.

Dracula ParrotDracula ParrotPeter Tan/Wikimedia

Dracula Parrots largely face threats from local poachers, compared to international ones.

According to the IUCN:

While this species is under significant hunting pressure for feathers, and to a lesser extent trade and meat, this varies geographically and much of its range is away from human populations. Hunting for feathers has increased with population growth. It has been extirpated from large areas, especially in Papua New Guinea.

However, in Papua New Guinea these declines appear to have been largely historical and localised to centres of population such as around Tabubil, where it rapidly declined after development of a large mine and town.

The bird’s population is frequently monitored, with research finding a ‘moderately rapid decline’ over the past 27 years. Pesquet’s Parrot first became classed as ‘vulnerable’ in 1994.

It is also believed desire for the parrot’s distinct plumage has increased in recent years thanks to tourism and cultural events becoming more popular in the area.


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Niamh Shackleton

Niamh Shackleton is a pint sized person and journalist at UNILAD. After studying Multimedia Journalism at the University of Salford, she did a year at Caters News Agency as a features writer in Birmingham before deciding that Manchester is (arguably) one of the best places in the world, and therefore moved back up north. She's also UNILAD's unofficial crazy animal lady.

Topics: Animals, bird, Dracula, Dracula Parrot, Nature, Papua New Guinea, parrot, Pesquet’s Parrot, poaching, Vulnerable


IUCN Red List and 2 others
  1. IUCN Red List

    Pesquet's Parrot

  2. Parrots.org

    Pesquet's Parrot

  3. Australian Geographic

    The Dracula parrot is intimidating